Grover Zampa Vineyards has added two companies to its portfolio: Four Seasons Wines, a 100% subsidiary of United Spirits, and Charosa Vineyards, an asset of Hindustan Construction Company. Vivek Chandramohan, CEO of Grover Zampa Vineyards, spoke to Activity area on various aspects of the wine industry. Edited excerpts:
In the wine landscape, there are two predominant styles, the Old World (countries like France, Italy and Spain) and the New World (Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, United States). Winemaking has a history of 50,000 to 60,000 years, India is very new with only 30 years of history. India does not have indigenous grape varieties. Wine in India is made from winemaking grapes imported from countries where wine has been produced for centuries. So when you bring flora and fauna from a foreign country, it takes time to adjust to a new place. India is generally not an easy land, but here again, evolution is gaining ground. Typically, Grover is influenced by French wine making and some of the predominant grape varieties in this territory that have managed to adapt to the Indian terroir are Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Shiraz. Tempranillo is another variety of Spanish origin which has adapted very well to Indian territory.
At Grover, our soul has always been focused on quality and therefore we have invested a lot this year to strengthen our viticulture and winemaking departments. As we speak, we have made great strides in fully digitizing our vineyards. In countries like Spain there are records of vines that are almost 200 years old. while the typical lifespan of the vine in India does not exceed 18 to 20 years. Among other major reasons like allowing evolution to take hold, the problem here is that we are using artificial drip irrigation; the root does not have to make harsh words. There is a water source, a water sprinkler and a timer and it provides timely water to the root. So where is the need for the root to go further? While there the roots are tens of feet deep, and this is where they get moisture and other nutrients as nature would expect. Although grapes are a succulent fruit, they require very little water, but this water should only be given at the right time. So we have invested a lot in underground irrigation.
We have also invested in drones and sensor technologies. The sensors will detect water stress, then the underground irrigation system will only give water to the plant when it needs it. Research has shown us that this method greatly improves the lifespan of the vine and also greatly improves the quality of the grape. Also, when you have a large area of vineyards, it becomes almost impossible to walk every square foot of the vineyard and check for diseases. This is where we have drones that fly over quickly and air-detect disease, if it exists, and deliver drugs quickly, saving us millions in crop value. Although we have spent a lot of money on these technologies for our vineyards, our goal is to learn and push these technologies further and help our farmers, who have accompanied us over the years.
Although late on this front, we believe that now is the time for us to invest on this front. We are almost in the stages of completing our brand new facility in Bangalore. A Restaurant – Lounge at La Réserve, a Porte de Cave – Boutique de La Réserve for our Cellar Doors Sales, and also a brand new Tasting Room – Cave de La Réserve. We are in talks in advance with the construction of accommodation facilities in our vineyards which are close to the winery. Nashik will see massive investments for a brand new restaurant, a very large ultra-mellow barrel and tasting room, new lounges, clubhouses and 60 ultra-premium all-glass chalets that will be built along the heights of the hill. . The view from up there is breathtaking – 180 degrees of rolling hills and bodies of water surround our winery there.
I suspect the ban has come on hard liquor, especially cheap liquor. The wine paid off at first but bounced back. There is a theoretical understanding that wine is a healthier, lighter option. Technically, it’s not very solid, because if you watch whiskey you drink 40% alcohol volume by volume, but you dilute it 5 times, either with soda, water or ice or them. of them. It becomes 8% volume by volume unless, of course, you drink on ice (which is not a general practice in India). While the wine is 13-14%, which you consume right away. So, sip by sip, the wine can be more powerful. But yes, with well-being taking a prominent place in the socio-economic landscape, the health benefits associated with wine seem to help. The scientific community has proven without a doubt that red wine is extremely rich in antioxidants which are beneficial in many ways, as well as the urbanization which aids in the consumption of wine as it is perceived as more sophisticated than other forms of wine. alcohol.
We have a capacity of 15 lakh liters (divided by 9 for the number of cases) in Bangalore, and about 7 lakh liters in Nashik. With the rapid expansion of our sales, we needed to secure additional capacity and that is why we were looking for additional wineries like Four Seasons which has another 15 lakh liter capacity plus a 50 acre land reserve and access to an additional 200 acres. , and Charosa which has a capacity of about 10 lakh liters and a land reserve of 230 acres and access to an additional 270 acres. We have also identified 550 acres of land here (near Bangalore) and around 500 acres in Maharashtra, which is both very good wine land and another 100 acres in Sholapur. But land today does not mean grape until four years later. If we are to maintain quality, it is imperative for us to have vineyards directly under our control. Therefore, these investments were made with these strategic needs in mind.
I joined this company in 2012, just after a major slowdown due to several internal and external struggles, when it was processing around 25,000 cases. This year we should close with around 260,000 cases. Much of our expansion has come from the growth we have achieved in the Indian market. Yes, our exports have also increased. We will most likely close at 20,000 cases this year out of the 260,000 cases. We are now exporting to 28 countries; eight new countries were added this year. Our biggest market is France. A significant quantity of our La Réserve, Art Collection Rose` & Art Collection Cabernet Shiraz goes to France. Our second largest export market is Japan. The US is growing strongly this year, the UK a little slow, but we have made strong inroads into Europe this year. We have made our foray into the Nordic world, Finland and Norway, which are monopolies, from where we have fast and large repeat orders. These monopolies will never give repeat orders unless they have sold the wines. This shows a strong acceptance of our wines in these regions.
Domestically, we have a strong presence across the country with small pockets that we were unable to enter due to restrictive pricing policies, but having recorded very strong sales this year, we plan to enter into every market this year.